AURORA, Colo (KDVR) – Three officers involved in taking or responding to “mocking” photos at the Elijah McClain memorial have been fired after an internal investigation.
The photos were taken in October, just two months after McClain’s death, and show officer Jaron Jones with his arm around officer Kyle Dittrich’s neck while officer Erica Morrera stood next to them and smiled.
“It’s disgusting to think they’re so callous to murdering an innocent young black man that they think it’s appropriate to joke about it and send around photos,” McClain family attorney Mari Newman said.
The photos were shared in a group chat with two other officers, including Jason Rosenblatt who responded, “HaHa.”
“The officers’ actions in these photos are appalling and inexcusable and will not be tolerated by the Interim Chief or by me. I agree with Interim Chief Wilson’s decisions, but this is not the end of our response,” Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman said.
Interim Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said she learned about the photos the last week of June and immediately interviewed the officers involved. The investigation also involved collecting cell phones and reviewing their contents. Wilson said the cell phones were turned over voluntarily at first, and an order was issued after the fact for formality.
The investigation was finished Monday night, and on Tuesday a review board recommended that all four officers be fired.
The officers were notified of the decision Tuesday at noon and given 72 hours to respond with any evidence or other information they wanted considered. Wilson said shortly after is when Jones submitted his resignation.
The other three officers, Dittrich, Morrera and Rosenblatt, did not have any response and were fired on Friday.
During a news conference Friday afternoon, Wilson released the photos in question publicly. She said earlier in the day she had met with and shown the pictures to McClain’s mother, Sheneen.
The Aurora Police Association, a union that represents police officers in the city, posted to Facebook Friday taking issue with the decision to fire Rosenblatt.
“Though this Officer had no part in the taking or distribution of the photos, and was sent the photos months after they were first taken, he was terminated from his job as an Aurora Police Officer effective immediately,” the post on the union’s Facebook page said.
The post went on to say that the internal investigation into these photos included confiscating officers’ phones and downloading the contents.
The union said the investigation, which was conducted over nine days, would have taken several months if handled properly.